You may or may not be aware, but last weekend a Pokémon tournament took place at several GameStop stores across the nation, mine included. I was seriously contemplating going and testing my mettle against the best my city had to offer, but unfortunately had to work (sudden schedule changes, the bane of my existence). Penny Arcade guy ‘Gabe’ was able to attend and his account is pretty telling. As the event approached, I was feeling a bit weird about going, and was pretty certain that if I did go, that I’d be the oldest one there by a pretty significant margin. I would have felt very strange knowing that I bought my first Pokémon game back in 1998, my sophomore year in college and the same year that some of these kids were born. So it’s somewhat comforting to know that someone else shared this concern.
“As it turns out I was the oldest person in the tournament by roughly twenty years and the only one not wearing a shirt with Pikachu on it.”
I’ve ended up purchasing a ridiculous amount of Pokémon things in the last decade. Since I’ve played games in the series for so long I sometimes forget that though the game is as deep as you want it to be, see EVs and IVs, it really is easy enough for the next generation of gamers to get in to. Gamers that don’t know or care what the different natures mean or what moves compliment others in a double-battle situation, just which ones look neat.
My mom, as it happens, works as a photographer for many of the schools in the region. One day she produces a copy of Pokémon Fire Red that she found in some parking lot of some school. This game was pretty beat up, it had been run over at least once and was missing a chunk of plastic from the corner, but still worked. I looked around the save file on it and noticed a few things, primarily that the person that played the game was not ‘Pro’. This might not mean much if you aren’t versed in the game, but his wallet was empty, all of his TMs were gone, all of his items were gone, he had no pokéballs, and all of his pokémon had been taught all of the HM moves they could learn, whether they were useful or not. He had linked up with and battled 9 times and lost all but one of those times. But the thing is, the timer on the game had clocked more than 145 hours in the game. The person who owned the game, someone called BLAKE, had spent a significant amount of time with it, and played the game the way he wanted to, not the way that it must be played, if the voice of the internet is to be believed. I sometimes forget that for every player on a message board obsessed with crafting the optimal team with perfect stats, there are dozens that just play the game. Not to necessarily be the best, but to take their ragtag team and show it off to their friends.
I don’t really know if I’d have made any significant progress in the tournament or even have made a respectable showing, but I do know that it was not for me. I am by no means ‘Pro’ at the game, and might well have lost, but contrary to what you may have been led to believe I would have felt pretty crummy if I managed to pound some little kids into oblivion.
Link! (Penny Arcade)